Hillsong Church Senior Pastor Brian Houston notified the congregation in a statement that Pastor Carl Lentz was terminated on Wednesday. Lentz was the lead pastor of Hillsong NYC.
"I was unfaithful to my marriage," Lentz wrote in a lengthy Instagram post Thursday.
Houston said the decision to part ways with Lentz was made following “ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures,” but did not mention specifics.
“It would not be appropriate for us to go into detail about the events that led to this decision,” the statement said. “Our focus at this time is to honor God and pastorally care for our East Coast church community as well as the Lentz family.”
Lentz, 41, began megachurch’s New York City location, the first on the East Coast, in 2010 with Houston’s son, Joel, according to Religion News.
Famous congregants of the Hillsong network of churches have included Bieber, his wife, Hailey Baldwin Bieber, and reality TV stars Kendall and Kylie Jenner, according to a GQ profile published in 2015.
"Our time at HillsongNYC has come to an end," Lentz wrote in part. "This is a hard ending to what has been the most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives."
The "Own the Moment" author said he didn't live up to the standard of pastor: "This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions."
Our time at HillsongNYC has come to an end. This is a hard ending to what has been the most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives. Leading this church has been an honor in every sense of the word and it is impossible to articulate how much we have loved and will always love the amazing people in this church. When you accept the calling of being a pastor, you must live in such a way that it honors the mandate. That it honors the church, and that it honors God. When that does not happen, a change needs to be made and has been made in this case to ensure that standard is upheld. Laura and I and our amazing children have given all that we have to serve and build this church and over the years I did not do an adequate job of protecting my own spirit, refilling my own soul and reaching out for the readily available help that is available. When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real and painful consequences. I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that. This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions. I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura and my children and taking real time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need. I am deeply sorry for breaking the trust of many people who we have loved serving and understand that this news can be very hard and confusing for people to hear and process. I would have liked to say this with my voice, to you, in person because you are owed that. But that opportunity I will not have. So to those people, I pray you can forgive me and that over time I can live a life where trust is earned again. To our pastors Brian and Bobbie, thank you for allowing us to lead, allowing us to thrive and giving us room to have a voice that you have never stifled or tried to silence. Thank you for your grace and kindness especially in this season, as you have done so much to protect and love us through this. We, the Lentz family, don’t know what this next chapter will look like, but we will walk into it together very hopeful and grateful for the grace of God..
"I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura and my children and taking real time to work on and heal my own life and seek out help that I need," he said. "I am deeply sorry for breaking the trust of many people who we have loved serving and understand this news can be very hard and confusing for people to hear and process."
On Lentz’s firing, Houston said: “While I have no doubt that this is the right course of action, I must mention Bobbie’s and my personal sadness, as we have known Laura her entire life and Carl for well over 20 years.”
He said that he remains confident that, “God will use Carl in another way outside of Hillsong church” after “a time of rest and restoration.”
The statement said Hillsong Church would not comment further on the matter.